Lamb prices under pressure as trade continues to remain difficult

Lamb quotes have stabilised this week with most buyers quoting an unchanged price to farmers, following the factories decision to drop prices last week.

Most lamb buyers are quoting a base price of between 430-440c/kg, with Kepak Athleague leading the way for lamb prices.

Both the Irish Country Meats’ and Kildare Chilling operations are working off a base price of 430c/kg.

This represents a drop of between 10-15c/kg when compared to the prices offered in the corresponding week in October, which is a loss of between €2.10-3.15/head on a 21kg carcass.

A combination of a weaker Sterling and continued difficult trading conditions in both the UK and France is causing the prices to remain at last week’s figures.

There was an increase in lamb numbers last week due to heavier lambs coming on the market following a couple of weeks of low numbers, according to one lamb buyer.

With regards to cast ewes, prices have remained pretty much unchanged to last week with buyers offering a base price of between 220-230c/kg.

Sheep Supplies

The number of lambs sent to slaughter increased in the week ending October 30, with the base price for lambs ranging from 440-445c/kg.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database for the week ending October 30 show that the total number of lambs sent to slaughter reached 48,261.

This represented an increase of 2.1% or 981 head when compared to the week ending October 23, figures show.

Meanwhile, ewe and ram supplies continued to fall with the numbers dropping by 17.4% to bring the number killed down to 9,024 at the end of the last week in October.

Despite the rise in the number of lambs sent to market, the overall sheep supply to Department of Agriculture approved processing plants fell by 1.7% for the week ending October 30.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Lambs: +981 head or +2.1%
  • Ewes: -1,902 head or -17.4%
  • Total: -1,154 head or -1.7%

Main Markets

According to Bord Bia, higher throughputs and lower demand in the British market is resulting in a reduction in deadweight prices. However, the weakening of Sterling continues to make UK lamb exports more competitive, it says.

In the week-ending November 4, the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €4.10/kg deadweight.

Meanwhile, the French market has improved slightly on the back of the bank holiday, but demand is slow and there is still a plentiful supply of competitively priced lamb on the market, reports Bord Bia.

Retail promotions were focusing mainly on imported and domestically produced product including chops, legs, shoulders and forequarters.